Scottie Freeman wants to serve his community. He opened a vapor shop in a depressed part of Erie and planned to use the shop’s proceeds to open up an ice cream store in the same part of town.
He had his sights set on creating a welcoming environment for the entire community, but the state’s uncontrollable spending addiction put a damper on his plans.
Elected officials decided to increase spending by more than $1.5 billion, leading to a slew of new tax increases on working people. The $650 million tax increase package includes a 40 percent excise tax on vape shops like Scottie’s.
“I’m truly having a hard time wrapping my head around this logic,” said Scottie. “It doesn’t make any sense unless the tax was designed to knock out the small guys so the bigger businesses can make money.”
Scottie decided to open up a vape business because he saw a trend in the industry. Only after his investment did he truly understand the health benefits of vaping. “People have come up to me to say I saved their life,” he said. Many see vaping as a better alternative to smoking, and numerous studies have suggested it is less harmful than cigarettes.
Scottie recently closed his Erie vape shop because he felt he would not be able to serve his customers well post-tax increase. “I can’t help people the way I want to because the product will be too expensive,” he said. “My customers still want me to stay open. And they’re angry I’m closing.”
Scottie doesn't give up easily. He's committed to continue serving his customers: “I still hope to provide people an opportunity to access vape products. I had to learn to cook when I was seven and wash my clothes at eight. I’ve learned to be creative.”
Still, Scottie can’t help but feel upset about the fate of his business. “They set out to destroy something I spent my time and money building. I can’t even go into my shop now without getting angry.”
Scottie isn’t alone. Vape shop owners from Erie to Philadelphia are closing because of the devastating excise tax on their industry.
As long as the tax remains in place, entrepreneurs like Scottie will be forced to abandon their dreams and close their doors.